Exposé Online banner

Sonar with David Torn — Live at Moods
(7d Media 1818, 2018, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-01-01

Live at Moods Cover art

How better to spend New Year's Day than listening to the latest live album by Swiss math-rock-jazz giants Sonar? This is actually the band’s second live album (the first was Live at Bazillus from 2012, which I have to confess as I write this I’ve never heard), but it’s the first where master ambient guitarist David Torn is sitting in with them, much like the previously released studio album Vortex. Three cuts from that album are reworked here including the brilliant closer “Lookface!,” and it closes the live set here as well. If you don’t know this instrumental powerhouse yet (you been hiding in a cave?) the band’s stock in trade is a sound where only tritones (strings tuned to C and F#) are allowed, used by guitarists Stefan Thelen, Bernhard Wagner, and bassist Christian Kunter, with Kunter and drummer Manuel Pasquinelli keeping a steady churning ever-shifting rhythm going while the guitarists use that rhythm to lay down an interesting web of sonic minimalism over the rhythmic turbulence. It’s kind of like me writing this review with words that only use seven letters of the alphabet (no, I’m not gonna do that, I’m not that creative anyway!) but you certainly get the picture – the music that Sonar makes is at once very minimalist and very interesting. David Torn is the wildcard here, he can show up anywhere and everywhere with soaring bits of flowing guitar color and additional unpredictable textures that work splendidly with what the rest of the band is doing. The set opens with “Twofold Covering” originally from Static Motion, adding a new dimension to it. Torn sits out “Tromsø” (originally from A Flaw of Nature) but returns for a solo piece “For Lost Sailors,” which is definitely one of the high points here, unlike anything else. With that exception, this set is much like what listeners heard in Vortex, just with some live ambience. A flawless live set, beginning to end.


Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): David Torn, Sonar, Stephan Thelen

More info
http://sonar-band.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-moods-w-david-torn

Latest news

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more

2020-01-07
Joel Vandroogenbroeck RIP – Word has reached us of the death of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, best known as one of the founders of Brainticket, He also recorded electronic music under a variety of names. He was born August 25th, 1938 in Brussels, Belgium and died December 23, 2019 in Arlesheim, Switzerland, aged 81. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

K Leimer - Degraded Certainties – Kerry Leimer's newest work delves deeply into the process side of ambient fabrications. Here, he gathers source elements that include strings, bells, and percussive sounds, and then runs them through...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues